Photo courtesy of GM

Photo courtesy of GM

The City of Austin (Texas) Fleet defended itself after a special report from the Auditor’s Office stated that the fleet had wasted $45,000 in purchasing an incorrect vehicle.

The auditor’s office investigated fleet after it received an allegation of waste and misuse during a 2014 vehicle acquisition process. The report found that a fleet spec writer had requested an incorrect vehicle for the police department. The error was not caught by management, and the spec writer confirmed the incorrect model when the vendor called to make sure the correct vehicle was being ordered.

Fleet didn’t realize it had ordered the wrong vehicle until it arrived at the “make-ready” facility. Returning it would cost $10,000, so Fleet Services Director Gerry Calk decided to keep the vehicle in fleet services for department use. The report also claims that fleet staff modified records related to the assignment of the vehicle before providing them to auditors.

In his response to the report, Calk wrote that he did not agree that the fleet wasted $45,000. He said it had been a simple administrative error (ordering an LS instead of an LT), and fleet will recover the cost when the vehicle is assigned to a similar service application. In the meantime, fleet will continue to use the vehicle for administrative and motor pool needs.

He also said “the characterization of gross inefficiency is not reflective of the true situation.” This occurred at the time of significant personnel turnover and reflects an administrative error of one employee. However, to address the problem, fleet added two more verification points to the current purchasing process and is working on adding one final verification step with the Purchasing Office. Fleet management also counseled the two staff members who auditors said did not fully cooperate in the investigation.

A replacement vehicle will be purchased in the 2017 fiscal year to make up for the accidental purchase, while the Police Department continues to use its old vehicle.